That’s right boys and girls, it’s time for another Australian version of the Downes Side! The time difference may throw off some people, but it’s nothing for the Nostradamus of MMA. I’d like to think I have the same staying power as the beloved Aussie band AC/DC.
Avoiding the Highway to Hell, the UFC trucks will gather on Melaleuca Drive Friday night for UFC Fight Night live from the Brisbane Entertainment Centre. In the main event of the evening, we have a High Voltage contest between heavyweights Mark Hunt and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. Both coming off TKO defeats, they try to keep a Stiff Upper Lip and get their names back in the title mix. In the co-main event of the night, New Zealander James Te Huna faces Maurico Shogun Rua in a match that’s sure to leave fans Thunderstruck.
Julie Kedzie (16-12) vs Bethe Correia (6-0)
The main card begins in the women’s bantamweight division with Julie Kedzie and Bethe Correia. Longtime WMMA veteran and crazy cat lady Kedzie’s UFC debut ended in a split decision loss to Germaine de Randamie in July. Stepping in for an inured Alexandra Albu, “Pitbull” Correia’s professional career began some eight years after Kedzie’s did. An undefeated fighter from Brazil, her offense focuses on taking opponents down and grinding out decisions.
Kedzie struggled with de Randamie’s size/strength advantage in July. Against the compact Correia, that won’t be a problem. With Correia being unable to press Kedzie against the fence and wear her out, the majority of the exchanges will happen in the middle of the cage. Correia’s striking is serviceable, but it’s still basic. There’s always a chance “Fireball” knocks out Correira with her patented “death stare,” but she’ll most likely control the standup en route to a unanimous decision win.
Dylan Andrews (18-5 1NC) vs Clint Hester (8-3)
We move up to middleweight for a clash between two TUF 17 teammates. Despite losing to Uriah Hall in the semifinals of the season 17, Dylan “The Villain” Andrews earned a spot in the UFC and holds a 2-0 record in the organization with TKO wins over Jimmy Quinlan and Papy Abedi. A former pro boxer, Clint “Headbussa” Hester showed off some new skills against Bristol Marunde in April when he knocked him out with a vicious elbow.
Hester has the advantage in pure striking power and technique; however, he hesitates too much (Hester-taters do sound like a delicious, starchy snack by the way. Perhaps he could open a french fry stand called Hester-taters...) Anyway, this lack of output will allow the Australia-based Andrews to close the distance and clinch up. Hester’s grappling has improved since his time on the show, but it’s still his biggest weakness. After initially stopping the takedown attempts, fatigue (with a touch of jet lag) will make that process much more difficult. Once the fight hits the ground, Andrews will easily advance his position and lock in a submission. Andrews forces the tap in the third.
Pat Barry (8-6) vs Soa Palelei (19-3)
That brings us to heavyweight for a fight that’s highly likely to deliver the knockout of the night. Entertaining inside and outside the Octagon, Pat “HD” Barry’s aggressive style has produced mixed results in his UFC career with four of his six losses coming in the first round; most recently, he was finished by Shawn Jordan in under a minute at UFC 161. Soa “The Hulk” Palelei returned to the UFC in August against Nikita Krylov. He won via third-round KO -- the 15th of his career -- but even he called the performance sloppy.
Barry’s style is high-risk, high-reward. Even with considerable size differences, he has no problem staying in the pocket and exchanging with larger opponents. Some might call that reckless, but I’d like to think that if Barry hung around a Bronx resident from the 1940s he’d say that Pat had moxie. Even though Palelei contends that his lackluster performance against Krylov was the result of a broken rib, you still have to question his conditioning (only one of his previous ten fights made it out of the first round). Provided Barry avoids the the initial rush, his low kicks and quick combinations will start to take their toll as the fight wears on. HD puts this one away with an uppercut in the second round.
Ryan Bader (16-4) vs Anthony Perosh (14-7)
We drop down a division for Ryan Bader and Anthony Perosh. Once considered a potential contender for the light heavyweight title, Bader has lost two of his last three (to title contender Glover Teixeira and former champion Lyoto Machida). A native of Australia, Perosh has spent a grand total of 21 seconds inside the Octagon his last two fights: Ryan Jimmo finished him in 7 seconds at UFC 149, but "The Hippo" bounced back in his next fight, taking out Vinny Magalhaes in only 14 seconds.
Bader’s striking has slowly improved over the years, but it’s been a detriment to his wrestling. He seems to distance himself further from the skill that’s arguably his greatest strength. Having said that, he should still be able to win this fight even if he goes toe to toe with Perosh. Both fighters have susceptible chins at this point of their careers, but Perosh’s will break first (not literally...maybe). In the second round, "Darth" Bader’s right hand connects and drops Perosh. He’ll follow up with some ground and pound and walk away with the second-round TKO.
Mauricio Rua (21-8) vs James Te Huna (18-6)
That takes us to the co-main event of the night, another light heavyweight matchup. After losing three of his last four many are wondering if MMA legend Mauricio “Shogun” Rua has any tread left on those tires. A hard-hitting, aggressive striker from New Zealand by way of Australia, James Te Huna has shown his grappling weakness in recent losses to Alexander Gustafsson and Glover Teixeira (two more top-tier light heavies).
Te Huna likes to stand in the pocket and throw. That didn’t work out for him in his last fight, but Shogun doesn’t possess the same type of dangers as Teixeira, seeing that his current opponent's lone career submission win came in 2006. Te Huna hits hard, but he’s wild, which leaves lots of openings for counter attacks. The big question here is if Shogun has the timing and power left to exploit those openings. Shogun still has some fight left in him, but not enough to take down the crowd favorite. Te Huna certainly has gaps in his game, but his conditioning and higher striking output will lead him to a decision win.
Mark Hunt (9-8) vs Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva (18-5)
Time for the main event of the evening! After losing six fights in a row, Mark Hunt’s unexpected four-fight win streak in the UFC made him a darling of the MMA world. A former K-1 kickboxer with a nasty left hook and a chin of granite, he’s looking to get back into the win column after Junior Dos Santos’s spinning hook kick finished him at UFC 160 in May. With a finishing rate of nearly 90%, Bigfoot Silva returns to action for the first time since losing his rematch against Cain Velasquez for the UFC heavyweight title.
A danger on the feet, Bigfoot prefers to do the majority of his damage in the clinch and on the ground. People like to badmouth Mark Hunt’s grappling abilities, but he’s still defended 17 of the 21 takedown attempts against him in his UFC career. His perfectly square body may make buying jeans a chore, but it does help his wrestling defense. JDS clearly won the standup exchanges in their fight through speed and movement. Silva has standup skills, but seeing him bust out a spinning hook kick is about as likely as finding an actual Sasquatch. Hunt will get inside Silva’s reach, deliver one of of those big overhand strikes and secure the first-round KO.
That wraps up another Downes Side that will probably shake you all night long. You can follow me on Twitter @dannyboydownes, but don’t forget to leave your own predictions, thoughts, insecurities or a picture of yourself dressed as Malcolm Young here. Men at Work tribute bands will also be accepted.